New HuffPost Blog – “Horror for Kids” and the Poltergeist Remake

I got thinking about horror aimed at kids over the last week or so, partly due to a discussion I was having of Facebook regarding the original rating of Poltergeist. It prompted me to write this article for Huffington Post, which recycles a paragraph from a blog post I wrote for this site a couple of years back but is otherwise new stuff.

The first draft of the blog post also had a bit about Joe Dante’s The Hole, which is another fascinating kid-orientated horror; very much a descendent of The Gate which, shit, I really would have written about too if I’d thought of it.

Basically, the piece would have ended up book length given half a chance. Go check it out.

Pat Higgins Live – “Selective Perception”

Since the new live show debuted at the weekend, we thought we’d share a clip from last year’s (now retired) show with you.

This clip is from ‘Fake Blood, Real Guts’ and talks a bit about selective perception and positive thinking. It also has me owning up to the fact that TrashHouse wasn’t 100% my first film…

‘How Not to Make a Horror Movie’ Debuts at Horror-on-Sea

Had a great weekend at Horror-on-Sea, a festival that we’ve supported since day one. It’s fantastic to see it going from strength to strength. Every year, there are fewer and fewer empty chairs (both in the large room where we tend to do the live shows and in the main auditorium), and the atmosphere is upbeat, buzzy and engaged.

Didn’t catch as many of the films as I’d intended to (partly due to an outbreak of chicken pox in the family suddenly throwing childcare plans into disarray), but at least this year I managed to get to my own show on time…

I really love doing shows like this. We’ve filmed this one, and hope to get it online before too long. This one features pre-recorded video contributions from an assortment of other independent horror filmmakers (and we were lucky enough to have at least couple in the audience, too, in the form of MJ Dixon and Dani Thompson)

The new show goes through an A to Z of different nightmares that might be faced by indie horror filmmakers, covering everything from dodgy small print in contracts through to appalling weather. It lasts about an hour and a half, and if you’re interested in booking the talk for a film festival, university event or children’s party (ok, probably not the children’s party) then feel free to get in touch via Jinx Media’s Facebook or my own Twitter account.

Some photos of myself and Paul Cousins in action below (courtesy of the awesome deVere Photography – check out their site and be sure to look through the portfolio for more Horror-on-Sea goodness.

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“How Not To Make A Horror Movie” – Saturday 24th February 2015 @ Horror on Sea

Getting all set for the first live date of 2015; my new show ‘How Not To Make a Horror Movie’.

This takes place on Saturday 24th February at the Horror-on-Sea festival in Southend – my favourite film festival of the year. This year’s line-up has got some amazing movies, including the latest from my old mate MJ Dixon “The Legacy of Thorn”, which is playing on Sunday 25th at 8pm. Click through below to check out the Mycho site.

Legacy of Thorn

The online ticket sales for Horror-on-Sea have now closed, but all remaining tickets and Festival passes will now be on sale from the Festival desk at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival from 10am on Friday Morning and throughout the Festival. Please call this number if you require any further information – 07981 824283.

Horror-on-Sea

‘How Not To Make as Horror Movie’ contains video contributions from several UK filmmakers, along with the usual hour or so of me rambling on about everything from cables getting broken through to using sausages and offal instead of plastic guts (tip: it’s not a good idea). I’m really looking forward to it.

My Horror-on-Sea show from a couple of years ago, “Werewolves, Cheerleaders & Chainsaws” is still available in full below, which probably means I should find some new anecdotes. Look forward to seeing a bunch of you there.

Retro Novelisation Covers!

Here at Jinx, we deeply love imagery that harks back to the horror that influenced us growing up. The final chapter of Nazi Zombie Death Tales is pretty much my love letter to rubber puppet horror movies like Ghoulies and Gremlins, and the office is covered in framed uk quad posters of genre movies of decades past.

The pulp horror novels and anthologies of the 70s and 80s hold a special place in my heart. They represent not only my own awakening to the genre, in many ways, (as an adolescent, I was permitted to read Herbert and King long before I was aloud to watch films with forbidden ratings) but also a family connection. My late uncle Tim Stout was a contributor to the Pan Book of Horror and author of a novel called The Raging; although he didn’t care for the pulpy cover the novel was given, I flat-out loved it as a kid.

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With these influences in mind, I am absolutely delighted to present a series of novelisation covers for three of our movies, designed by the brilliant Random Elements. Please go and visit their Facebook page for even more brilliant artwork. Without further ado, here they are.

Oh, who am I kidding? You already scrolled down and peeked, didn’t you?

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The Devil’s Music Director’s Cut DVD (update)

I’m aware that many of you guys have been waiting patiently for the Director’s Cut DVD of The Devil’s Music, which has been listed on Amazon for several months but seems to have been subject to a bit of a floating release date.

All I can do is apologise for this one. There have been some issues outside of our control which have resulted in the release date getting bumped a couple of times. This isn’t our fault, or that of our brilliant distributors Cine du Monde, it’s an outside issue which has knocked the schedule over a bit.

I keep waiting for confirmation of a new date, which I very much hope will be sooner rather than later. As you’re hopefully aware, the flick enjoyed a real resurgence of interest last year when the Director’s Cut was reviewed extremely favourably on AintItCool News and was later listed as ‘Worth Noting’ in their countdown of the best horror movies of 2014. Alongside new interviews with Pat about the movie and some other great reviews, it was a good year for the movie.

As soon as we have a concrete new release date, we’ll let you know. Once again, sorry.

In the meantime, here’s the new introduction to the film from the DVD, just to whet your appetite.

The Seed of an Idea

There’s a cliche that every creative in any industry will be constantly asked where they get their ideas from. I’ve heard a bunch of great responses, from specific store names to outright abuse, but I guess the reason that the question keeps getting asked is because the answer is never fully satisfying.

Anywhere.

Everywhere.

I had the idea for TrashHouse (or, at least, the idea of a chainsaw-weilding heroine who happened to be styled like a 50s soda-pop girl), whilst wandering around an outdoor museum in the States. They had a recreation of a 50s living room which I walked into whilst absent-mindedly pondering zombies and, boom, Lucy Sweet was born somewhere in my brain. Why, yes, of course you can watch her in action. Here’s our short from last year.

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I had the acorn that would eventually grow into the idea for Strippers vs Werewolves after labelling a Sky Movies VHS recording (which probably contained Kandyland and Stripped to Kill, or at very least two movies that were so similar to them as to require DNA testing to tell whether they were actually those films or not) as ‘Strippers vs Nutters’, which then became a running joke for years (as I detailed in this blog entry over on the Huffington Post)

Strippers vs Nutters

Ideas can come from anywhere. And, of course, sometimes they don’t come at all. What can you do? What can you do if you need an idea, and nothing is forthcoming? Well, there are a bunch of things that I can recommend if you are trying to get your poor, long-suffering brain to crap out that acorn of potential.

There are several great idea generation exercises in Blake Snyder’s brilliant Save The Cat (which is still flat-out best book on screenwriting I’ve ever read) and some of them can be found at this link over here.

I also recommend grabbing yourself a nice bunch of random words, writing them down and playing with them in any way you see fit. Sometimes just jogging your creative instincts out of their usual patterns can be really productive, and throwing in something random can be a great way of doing that.

Here’s something a bit more unusual. Try drawing a schematic map of a building that you’ve visited in real life (overhead view, nothing fancy, don’t worry if you can’t draw because no bugger is ever going to see it but you). Once you’ve finished, take a look at the layout and see what genre and plots the location would be most suited to.

Just to try an example, here’s my off-the-top-of-my-head sketch of a flat I lived in around 2001.

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There are a number of things that immediately come to mind looking at this image. The first one is that my own rule about not worrying how awful the drawing is because no bugger will ever see it has clearly led me into a false sense of security in this case, particularly as some bugger (specifically YOU, you bugger) is now looking at it. Try and put this, and my lack of any drawing ability, from your mind.

I’d forgotten a lot of details until I drew this image. The blind on the front window only covers the middle pane of glass, thus allowing a partial view into the lounge from the street. This immediately gives me ideas for plot and incident, most of which would be best suited to a thriller. The guy who worked in the shop opposite used to watch the going on in our flat with interest, and relay my life back to me with an alarming amount of detail whenever I popped in for cigarettes. Maybe he could be a witness to something?

Back to the flat. Next up; the only way to the toilet is through the main bedroom. There’s some vague idea here for either a scatological comedy (perhaps of the unwanted houseguest subgenre) or, again, a thriller. Probably dependent if the character was trying to get into the toilet or out of it.The whole place could be a fucking nightmare in a case of fire, or course. So many places to get trapped. Or to hide.

Yeah, I reckon a domestic thriller would be the way to go with this location. If I had the little map sitting next to me while I wrote, I’d have so many ideas for little bits of business which simply wouldn’t cross my mind (in terms of how characters could get from room to room, or what they could or couldn’t do) without a strong sense of the layout of the location. If you know of a location that you might be able to use for an indie shoot, why not try the exercise with that?

Once the idea is in place, of course, the real fun begins..

How Not to Make a Horror Movie

Every year, I write a new live appearance/show/thing and try and get it up online if possible. The 2014 show ‘Fake Blood, Real Guts’ was great fun (although I’ve yet to sort out a decent edited version).

The 2015 show is called ‘How Not to Make a Horror Movie’ and focuses on all the dreadful shit that can go wrong on the way to creating cinematic gold.

Anyway, the first date is Southend’s Horror on Sea festival on Sat 24th Jan:
http://www.horror-on-sea.com/Festival_2015/Saturday_24th/saturday_24th.html

Here’s the blurb;

Pat Higgins (Death Tales, The Devil’s Music, Strippers vs Werewolves) has made a lot of horror movies. He’s also made a lot of mistakes. Join him for a fast-paced romp through all the horrible ways that your masterpiece can screw up. From power failures to casting nightmares, these are the terrifying true stories of how NOT to make a horror movie…

Hope to see you there.

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